How we got everyone on Twitter talking about our debut book #NastyWomen

You’re one of over 200,000 new titles being published in the UK this year.[1]

You’re a drop in an ocean of content, a grain of sand on a well-trodden beach of gems and, honestly, some flushed refuse. Where do you start on making a splash?

For us at alternative Edinburgh-based publisher 404 Ink, we knew Twitter was going to be our first and most reliable port of call to reach our audience. When co-founder Heather McDaid and I decided to commission and publish Nasty Women, an anthology of essays and accounts on what it is to be a woman in the 21st century as a direct pushback against the poisonous rhetoric and ‘alternative facts’ coming out of the Trump administration and Brexit discussions, social media was at the forefront of our marketing campaign.

Nasty Women is an important, timely collection and a call to arms to tell your stories and tell them loud: our genuine rallying cry and an irresistibly punchy hook made for character-limited marketing. The #NastyWomen hashtag was already buzzing so hopping on that was a no-brainer. However, we also knew that tweeting into the white noise of the heavily populated book world wasn’t going to be enough and we needed to be target-focused to make waves.

For better or worse we pride ourselves on our largely non-corporate looking Twitter account. @404Ink looks like what it is: two young women who enjoy using GIFs and being a bit sarcastic. It appeals to the demographic we publish for and hopefully comes across as genuine. To keep this message consistent we didn’t want to muddy our timeline with tweets at random celebrities who might have a vague interest in our book, we wanted to tweet with a clear purpose.

In the early days of our Nasty Women Kickstarter campaign, day three to be precise, our friend and publicity assistant Mairi tweeted from her personal account a message and link to the campaign at Margaret Atwood. No way she would bite, we thought. And yet, she backed it and spread the word, being supportive for the rest of the Kickstarter. Engaging with people of influence who we think will genuinely appreciate our book from a personal angle is what works for us. No one likes spam, and absolutely no one likes being one of ten randomly tagged in a generic crowdfunding campaign tweet. Keep it targeted, keep it personal and for the love of all things bookish don’t spam.

The kind of spam you do want is that from your audience. My Twitter timeline is effectively spammed with our own book because photographic tweets are number 1 on Twitter. The book is visually appealing and carries a timely message that is part of a larger political and social movement which we thought would do well on Twitter but Nasty Women has made waves beyond our expectations and hopes thanks to a perfect storm of planning, persistence and a tiny bit of luck.

Laura Jones is the co-founder of new and alternative publisher 404 Ink and a book production and promotion freelancer for the Saltire Society, Bloody Scotland and more. @laurafjones @404Ink

[1] https://www.publishers.org.uk/resources/uk-market/statistics-news/uk-book-industry-in-statistics-2015/

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